About 50 parents of Clarkstown School District students
shared their criticism, concerns and expectations concerning the Common Core
Learning Standards at a workshop on Tuesday. The district’s curriculum team
held the program to give parents an overview of Common Core and its impact on
instruction and curriculum but some parents complained it should have taken
place during the last school year before the New York State Assessments were
Director of Curriculum & Instruction Dr. Margaret Ruller explained the goal of Common Core Standards for grades kindergarten through 12th is to establish what students should know and be able to do by the end of each grade on a national basis.
Some parents said their children are feeling overwhelmed by the amount of homework and discouraged over lower test grades. They also spoke about their lack of information.
One mother said, “They’re coming home frustrated, angry, upset.”
Another parent said students were told to prepare for tests but did not have study materials. They asked for subject handouts and guidance on how to help their children at home.
Ericika Licitra’s son attends first grade at Woodglen Elementary School.
She said the teacher has been very helpful and she is hopeful about the Common Core.
“One of my concerns is being able to help him at home,” she said.
K-12 STEM Coordinator Eric Sigman said he planned to post videos explaining key math concepts on the district’s website. A video of the Tuesday meeting and the slides shown will also be available on the website within a few days.
“My concern is with the implementation,” said Heather McGinley. “(From) What I’ve researched and learned about the Common Core, I’m not against the Common Core.”
Denise Britz of Congers has a third grader.
“I have no problem with Common Core,” she said. “I think it’s more detailed, it’s more involved. I think it’s the way children should be taught.”
Dr. Ruller and her staff guided parents through several activities to give them some understanding of Common Core. Michelle Zernone, K-12 ELA/Social Studies Coordinator, led them through a lesson about Peter Pan and Sigman conducted an exercise with Army Math.
Sigman said students would learn more about fewer math concepts and study them in depth.
He said the goal is to determine “What do the students need to be ready for college, career or life.”
Sigman explained the six shifts in Math Curriculum, which include a strong focus on the standards; link major topics across grades; emphasize speed and accuracy with calculation and memorize core functions; learn the math; understand how and when math is used and practice.
“What the Common Core is doing is hopefully giving them a strong sense of numbers so they don’t need to rely on those calculators,” said Sigman. “And hopefully that is where the Common Core is going and hopefully that’s where we can take the kids and give them that greater sense of numbers.”
Zernone spoke about the six shifts in ELA Curriculum, which incorporate increased instruction in nonfiction or informational texts; focus on content area literacy in science social studies and technical subjects; increase complexity of texts; focus on text based questions; writing with text based support and emphasis on academic vocabulary.
“If you even just look at a manual that comes along with a piece of technology these days it really is a pretty rigorous experience as a reader to get through the text,” said Zernone. “And that’s really where the Common Core leads us is down the path of getting students ready for those demands be it in a career or college to meet those challenges.”
Dr. Ruller asked parents to write down additional questions for follow-up at future meetings and announced a Kindergarten through fifth grade Math Workshop on Tuesday, Dec. 3.
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